Paula Patton stars in “Disconnect”

She played Denzel Washington’s love interest in the movie “Déjà Vu,” starred opposite Tom Cruise in the fourth installment of the popular “Mission Impossible” franchise and played a teacher in the award winning film “Precious.”

In her latest role, the amiable actress who is married to R&B singer Robin Thicke plays a victim of online identity theft.

A movie that explores the consequences of modern technology, and how it affects and defines our relationships, it centers on a group of people searching for human connections in today’s wired world.

Paula Patton on the red carpet - photo by Royalty Image

Paula Patton at the Hollywood premiere of Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol/ Courtesy of Royalty Image

“I just loved the script and when they asked me to play Cindy, I jumped at the opportunity. The story has such relevance to the way we live today,” says Patton.

At the start of “Disconnect,” Max Thieriot’s character is walking through a disheveled house delivering packages to its scantily clad teenage occupants. As he reaches a room on the final stairwell, he disrobes to a pair of extra tight speedos and turns on a webcam.  It’s then we learn that he, along with the other young residents, are sex workers for an adult-only website.

Paula Patton with husband Robin Thicke at the Oscars

Paula Patton with husband Robin Thicke at the Oscars/ Courtesy of Royalty Image

The movie then starts promisingly with a series of vivid vignettes, and we’re quickly introduced to an assiduous lawyer (Jason Bateman) who is constantly on his cell phone much to the chagrin of his family, a widowed ex-cop (Frank Grillo) who is unaware his mischievous son is a cyber-bully, and a woman (Paula Patton) who finds solace online after the loss of her infant son.

Alexander Skarsgård and Paula Patton

Alexander Skarsgård and Paula Patton /Courtesy of LD Entertainment

Now we start to recognize the shape “Disconnect” is going to take.

Expect to squirm uncomfortably in your seat throughout the duration, for this articulate and particularly relatable drama offers a brutally honest look at the way we sometimes try to connect, but wind up distancing themselves from one another.

Paula Patton and Alexander SkarsgU_êrd in Henry-Alex Rubin's _DISCONNECT_ Courtesy of LD Entertainment 2_DIS-00735_R

Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgård/ Courtesy of LD Entertainment

A film that marks the first fiction feature from Henry Alex Rubin, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Murderball,” what makes the movie so engaging is the way Rubin moves seamlessly between all these stories. He has a profound understanding of these characters, their emotions and the path of their circumstances and structures them in such a way that his characters reach a crisis point simultaneously, followed by melancholy clarity although none of them achieve anything resembling an easy sense of solace.

“When I read the script, I was moved by each of the intertwining stories,” says Rubin. “I find myself drawn to people’s emotions, and I was really drawn to these people and their situations.”

With several intersecting stories and characters crisscrossing and relationships revealed along the way, “Disconnect” works because it offers a relatable story occurring in today’s society in terms of human interaction, communication, loneliness.

Max Thieriot

Max Thieriot in Henry-Alex Rubin´s Disconnect/ Courtesy of LD Entertainment

Patton’s character Cindy is a frustrated and unhappy spouse whose chat with an online stranger leaves her vulnerable to a computer hacker with drastic results. Through the use of social media, cyber-bullies pick on an oddball classmate with dire consequences. There’s plenty of texting, sexting, emailing, webcams and electronic gadgets on display, which makes Rubin’s film relevant to the times we live in.

“Cindy is a really interesting character. She and her husband Derek have been married a long time and she finds herself in a place that seems like despair and the challenge is for the character to fight that despair,” Patton continues.

Written by Andrew Stern, who wanted to pen a multi-story film about how technology is connecting us in one way, it weaves a tale of dissimilar, disconnected individuals and reflects how technology both unites and divides us. What’s going to happen to each of these characters and how are their lives are going to unfold? That’s what keeps you invested in this smart drama.

“I wrote the screenplay when I noticed that at the dinner table people had their phones out and were emailing and texting – that people were present and strangely not present with one another,” Stern adds. “I decided I wanted to write a multi-story film about how technology is connecting us in one way, but also disconnecting us at the same time. Because of the way we’ve all accepted living online, texting, tweeting, emailing and so forth, somehow face-to-face personal communication and real human interaction has become less and less important. The film deals with this.”

Also starring Andrea Riseborough, Jonah Bobo, Haley Ramm and Hope Davis, the eclectic ensemble cast is extraordinary and the actors give their characters’ who all show weakness and strength in equal measure, authentic individuality.

“Disconnect” is currently playing in theaters.

Samantha Ofole-Prince is a journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news that includes television and film. She serves as the Entertainment Editor for Trendy Africa.

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